Can I breastfeed if…woman taking pills preganant

It's very common to have questions about being ill or taking medications while breastfeeding. 

I take prescription and/or over-the-counter medication:

Some medications are ok to take while breastfeeding but it’s best to ask your doctor/pharmacist before you start, you can also call us at (559) 263-1150. Some over-the-counter medications can be just as dangerous as prescriptions. At Fresno EOC WIC we use the drug reference: “Medications and Mother’s Milk,” written by clinical pharmacologist, Dr. Thomas Hale and colleague Dr. Hilary Rowe. We can look up any prescription or over-the-counter medication and let you know what the book says – if a medication is safe or not. It’s always best to ask first before you decide to not or stop breastfeeding. This is not a substitution for medical advice, if you feel concerned, please call your doctor or pharmacist. 

I’m sick with the flu:

The common misconception by most mothers is that they cannot breastfeed when they are sick. It is a very logical concern to have but believe it or not, most illnesses do not require mothers to stop breastfeeding! Whether it's the common cold, flu, fever or stomach flu, mothers can nurse without worrying that they'll make their child sick. A mother's breast milk doesn't transmit illness to their child but it does give babies antibodies that can help them fight infection. Maintaining your nursing routine while you're ill is the best and most efficient way to help your baby stay healthy, while at the same time maintain your milk supply.

If you need to take any medications during breastfeeding, make sure to call your WIC office. Some medications can cause your milk supply to decrease. If you are feeling under the weather, drink a lot of fluids, rest up and keep breastfeeding!

I don’t eat healthy:

Yes. You do want to eat as healthy as you can, but if your diet is not perfect your breastmilk will be. Your body’s nutrients may be tapped into but your milk will always be perfect for your baby; so, even if you don’t always eat healthy, still breastfeed!

I smoke cigarettes:

Depends: If you smoke less than a pack a day – yes you can breastfeed. The benefits of your breastmilk for your baby still far outweigh the amount of nicotine in your breastmilk. Your breastmilk is still better than any formula. If you smoke you can: 1) take steps to quit – Call 1-800-No-Butts, 2) Don’t smoke the whole cigarette – make one last for 2-3 times. 3) Don’t let the smoke near your baby: Smoke outside, away from your baby, and only after you breastfeed. 4) The smoke sticks to your clothes and skin so wash your hands and change your clothes before being around your baby again.

I drink alcohol:

Depends: If you are having 1 drink, with food, on a special occasion, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) it is o.k. Moms who drink regularly/daily should not breastfeed. When you drink, the amount of alcohol in your breastmilk is the same that is in your blood. So what does that mean? If you are feeling the effects of the alcohol-don’t breastfeed. With 1 drink – it should take 2-3 hours for the alcohol to clear your system. Don’t breastfeed for 2-3 hours. You can pump & dump during this time if needed. You can give your baby breastmilk you pumped at an earlier time if your baby gets hungry. No need to wait hours or days to breastfeed after 1 drink.

I smoke marijuana

 No. Marijuana, once inhaled, sticks to fat in your body. Breastmilk is high in fat. Effects on baby of marijuana use by a breastfeeding mom include slow weight gain and slow development in the baby. Long-term effects are not known. Moms who use any mind-altering drugs should not breastfeed. Here is information from the California Department of Public Health on marijuana and the effects during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 


Still have questions? Call us! (559) 263-1150